- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 28, 2010

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - The top team owners in NASCAR set their individual agendas aside for a unified brainstorming session on how to cut costs and help revive the auto racing industry.

“We’re all stakeholders in this thing, and we all want to know ‘What can we do to make this better? How can we save some money and help the show?’ ” team owner Rick Hendrick told The Associated Press on Wednesday, the day after representatives from about 10 race teams gathered at Hendrick Motorsports to discuss ideas.

The meeting was an offshoot of the “town hall” style sessions NASCAR has been holding with competitors since early last season to give drivers and teams an opportunity to discuss the issues facing America’s No. 1 racing series. Unable to shake the slide in both attendance and TV ratings, NASCAR and its participants have been working together to re-energize the sport.

“I really like the new attitude in NASCAR,” Hendrick said. “I really like the way we’re all just kicking around something, talking it out and coming to agreements on how to move this sport forward.”

NASCAR has historically been run by the founding France family as a dictatorship, and although participants could offer opinions, the ruling family made all the decisions. It was somewhat benevolent, though, and the late Bill France Jr. traditionally hosted an annual fishing trip following the July race in Daytona in which drivers and owners could raise questions and concerns away from the race track.

Current NASCAR chairman Brian France has continued the post-Daytona trip, and owners in attendance earlier this month decided to call a meeting for further discussion among a larger group of participants.

NASCAR approved of the idea, and an agenda was set to discuss ideas ranging from restrictions on traveling crew members, tires used in a weekend, the current testing ban and shortening the length of the races.

NASCAR has become a very different business model,” said Walt Czarnecki, president of Penske Racing, who attended the meeting with owner Roger Penske. “And we all need to figure out a way, like all business today, to cut costs without impacting the integrity of the product. How do we become more efficient, better business managers?

“We have to face this from the business context, as all businesses have had to do over the last 18 months, and motorsports is no different.”

NASCAR has made several steps over the past few years to alleviate rising costs to team owners, from implementing a single-engine rule, eliminating testing at sanctioned tracks and starting a tire leasing program. Even the current model car was designed by NASCAR as a cost-cutting measure.

The sanctioning body is open to listening to more ideas from the owners, and was hopeful Tuesday night’s meeting produced some unified thoughts.

“Cost containment is a key issue in our sport (and) we are always open to additional ideas,” NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said. “Hopefully, the owners will find common ground on some ideas to present to NASCAR for consideration.”

Hendrick said the conversation Tuesday night remained cordial, and the hot-button topics didn’t receive the same attention as issues that the group could unanimously agree upon.

“If we didn’t really agree on something, there were things some people had reservations on, we moved on,” he said. “If it was something that was a no-brainer, we said OK, that’s a fine idea, we all like that one.”

The next step will be presenting the results of the meeting to NASCAR and seeing if the sanctioning body is in agreement on any of the ideas. That it’s even going that far pleased Earnhardt Ganassi Racing co-owner Felix Sabates, who praised NASCAR’s “open-minded approach to the needs of the fans, owners and drivers.

“It is very refreshing to see the approach NASCAR has embraced,” Sabates said.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide